That’s the question, and, although I have my suspicions, I don’t think anyone can really call it at this point. The two votes which most people will be watching are those on whether to accept a “social statement” (probably roughly the same thing as an LCMS CTCR document) which would effectively bless relationships between two people of the same sex (essentially making a same-sex relationship the equivalent of marriage), and whether to amend the ELCA’s constitution to explicitly allow the ordination of persons who are in open homosexual relationships. The items up for a vote are here, with more information. (The actual Task Force recommendation on changing the ministry standards is here.) Probably the most important vote will be on rules and procedures, and whether to adopt the proposals with a simple majority or 2/3.
There are a number of letters going around trying to influence the vote one way or the other. There is the Open Letter being circulated by WordAlone and CORE. There is the dialogue/debate between Herbert Chilstrom and Carl Braaten, both ELCA pastors/professors. There is a letter from ELCA seminarians. And a letter from Hispanic ELCA pastors. Again, it seems that many more prominent ELCA pastors/members are opposing the proposals than supporting them, but it all depends on the voting members of the Assembly.
Now, I respect that there are faithful members of the ELCA willing to stand up for a seemingly unpopular position contra the homosexual agenda (witness this on the ELCA website; interesting timing, don’t you think? C’mon, practically all the clergy support the proposals! At first, I questioned the idea of a 2-1 lay-clergy membership of the Assembly; now, I think it may be the only thing that saves the day.) I respect them, however, as I respect brave people on a sinking ship. It may not quite be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but the iceberg is right there, nonetheless. And I have to agree with the former bishop Chilstrom on the CORE Open Letter, regarding ecumenical relationships. What makes the signers of the letter think that homosexual pastors will make those relationships grow cold, if female clergy-type persons and the church insurance paying for clergy abortions didn’t? Not to mention sharing altars and pulpits with the Episcopalians, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the United Church of Christ(!). Surely, if the Lord’s Supper couldn’t persuade the ELCA to think twice about relationships with Rome and Constantinople, homosexual pastors shouldn’t either (especially if the “gospel” demands it). I know the ELCA has been more involved in semi-official talks with Rome than, say, the LCMS (something we should remedy), but I can’t believe Rome would consider real fellowship with a church body that has priestesses. Or a church body that does not discipline those that contravene even its modest rules. (See here for a list of homosexuals who have been ordained and serve[d] ELCA congregations without or with little discipline.)
Whatever happens this week, know this: the homosexual lobby is as patient as they come. If not this year, then two years from now. If not then, then two years more. This ain’t going away, and if the voting members know that, they might just as well show their exhaustion and say ‘to hell with it.’
I also wonder, incidentally, what a ‘yes’ vote will mean for heterosexuals who want to live with their ‘partners’ outside of marriage? Certainly a double standard cannot exist, can it?